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East Bay SPCA Home
The East Bay SPCA saves 
     and improves the lives of cats and dogs and connects
     people and pets in our community.











What is No Kill 
Shelter Life Blog 
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Annual Reports 

Welcome to Shelter Life at the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

We began as the Oakland SPCA in 1874. Today, the East Bay SPCA includes two animal shelters and three clinics in our community.

This is our day.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I think I like Rod Guiler the best.

I can never remember how to spell certain dog breeds. Apparently, I am not the only one. The following are breeds as they were documented by the clients on clinic registration forms.

Begall Beagle
Malibu Malamute
Bull Massive
Bull Mastiff
Bull Mater
Bull Mastiff
Patedillon Papillon
Pegniece Pekingese
Pequenes Pekingese
Chewawa Chihuahua
Chiguagua Chihuahua
Chiwawa Chihuahua
Chiyaya Chihuahua
Chuchcan Chihuahua
Pet Bull Pit Bull
Pick Bull Pit Bull
Pip bull Pit Bull
Pit Bowl Pit Bull
Pul Bull Pit Bull
Put Bill Pit Bull
Chow-Wow Chow Chow
Puppy Chow Chow Chow
Cracker Spano Cocker Spaniel
Crocker Spaniard Cocker Spaniel
Papamarian Pomeranian
Pomerena Pomeranian
Checo Sovakain Wolf Czechoslovakian Wolf
Pomeria Pomeranian
Datsun Dachshund
Pub Pug
Doxin Dachshund
Winner Dachshund
Weener Boy Dachshund
Hot Dog Dachshund
Rottwielderer Rottweiler
Rockwiler Rottweiler
Rod Guiler Rottweiler
Rotwilder Rottweiler
Roukweilr Rottweiler
Wrot Rottweiler
Dolmotion Mex Dalmatian Mix
Girman Heaper German Shepherd
Jurman Sheperd German Shepherd
Keltie Sheltie
Shit Zoo Shih Tzu
Lapso Upso Lhasa Apsa
Lapsa apso Lhasa Apsa
Siemeis Siamese
Lasa Opso Lhasa Apsa
Simon Siamese

I think I like Rod Guiler the best.

Monday, July 24, 2006


I wish I was writing about 110 adoptions this weekend, but instead I'm writing about 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

This past week or so has been a real scorcher. Blame global warming, ecological changes, whatever -- it's not pleasant for us animals used to more temperate climates.

At our Tri-Valley Adoption and Spay Neuter facility, the climate control system includes 10 A/C compressors, each working on separate parts of the building.

Sometime within the past two weeks, two of those compressors have failed or lost the ability to fully cool. Fortunately (so to speak), those compressors covered the back hallway and break room for the staff. Although it was miserable eating lunch at 90 - 100 degrees, all our animals were safe in the air conditioned habitats and kennels.

This Sunday brought a dire situation however. Sometime in the late morning or early afternoon, the compressor for the rear kennels and cat holding area stopped working effectively (or failed outright). Temperatures rised quickly, despite doing our best to keep things cool by limiting outside air and closing doors and turning out lights.

This is where our awesome quick-thinking and hard-working staff jumped into action. A game plan was made to get our dogs and cats to safety, quickly. Thoughts about where to put them were paramount. On the other side of the building is the dog training room, aka the "concrete room", named for the concrete floors. The windows in this room were recently tinted heavily to keep heat out and make things look nicer from the outside. This room only runs the A/C when we are having classes, so the compressor has seen much less use and potentially runs better. The staff cranked up the A/C (fortunately it was still cool from morning classes) and rushed to get dog crates from all corners of the shelter to house the dogs temporarily.

Half the cats were moved from the now hot "cat holding" to the grooming room, and the other half wheeled with their cages to the attached spay/neuter facility, where the A/C was still able to cool.

Ideas on a more permanent location for the dogs were thought up, as they couldn't stay in crates all night. Right now some of the dogs are staying in the spay/neuter kennels, at least until Tuesday, when the s/n clinic is next open and those kennels are needed for them. We transferred more to our Oakland facility, where they had some extra space.

I really have to thank everyone who was there on Sunday to help out. Without our staff and volunteers, things would be a lot worse for our four legged friends. They put out hard work even on a miserable day that exhausted us all. Thanks also to RE, Facilities Manager for coming on your day off trying to help.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Waiting patiently to be noticed.

A few weeks ago, we took in a dog from a local county shelter. We were told some story about how the dog ended up there, tested the dog, and called him Wolfgang. After he had been available for adoption a week or so, we had our adoptathon. That day, someone came in saying they were from the breed rescue group for Wolfgang's breed and they wanted him. They would pay the fee, do whatever was necessary...they just wanted to take the dog so they could place him. Our manager explained that the dog wasn't at risk, was doing well and we didn't need help with placement. She said we would call if we did need help. This pissed the person off to no end, demanding the manager's supervisor's name (me) and throwing a fit.

So, I get a message explaining what happened from her point of view. I returned the call the next day, but only after three other breed rescue people had left messages. I had a nice chat with her explaining our process, how we are a little different than other shelters as we have habitats (she said this breed doesn't kennel well), the ability to restrict adoptions (she said this breed doesn't do well with kids), and dog trainers who work with the dog (she said this breed is smart and needs stimulation.) I repeated what the manager had said about not needing their help at this time, but also added that we wouldn't turn over a dog to a rescue group we had never worked with before without some vetting and paperwork. I also asked if she would give a dog over to someone who showed up with no notice demanding the dog. She seemed to understand, thanked me, and I said we would talk again after I had the needed documents. I did say, before we hung up, that I would be happy to have any interested parties that they knew come to see the dog at our facility. I said we would even put the dog on hold if someone was driving a long distance.

Then, the next day, we get a message from the breeder of the dog (yes, they traced this dog back to the breeder) and from another person saying THEY were with the breed rescue group. They both wanted the dog back. I explained everything again to them. I told them each that I was already dealing with someone from the rescue group, but that I would be happy to put the dog on hold if someone was coming from a long distance.

Then, the next day, I get a fax from someone else from this breed rescue basically telling me the first person I spoke with was a complete liar and showing email proof of her deceptive ways. Apparently this first person said that we were holding back the dog as our "trophy bride" since we don't get pure breds often.

It was at that point that I decided I was done with all this nonsense and that if anyone else called about the dog, I would be honest and tell them I was done.

That same day, two different people from the Monterey area called. They heard we had this dog from the breeder and wanted to come meet him. I said sure. The first person could come in three days and the second person could come today. I put the dog on hold, the people drove up, met the dog, fulfilled all of our requirements AND had had this breed of dog before. It was a nice match and they drove back south with Wolfgang. (We called the other person to tell them the adoption had happened.)

I can not tell you how pleased I was that this dog was in a home and I didn't have to talk to anyone else about him again. I had probably spent 3-4 hours on the phone with various people talking about the dog. It was ridiculous.

But what was more ridiculous is that no one would spend this kind of time or energy on a mutt. There is no "mutt breed rescue". No one takes the time to get to the know the dog...they just think the breed they rescue is different and unique and special. And none of them understand how what we do in the shelter is the complete opposite of what the breeders and clubs do with their dogs. We take dogs that end up unwanted in city and county shelters and give them another chance. They create dogs that take away adoptive owners from those same needy dogs sitting waiting in shelters. For every dog bred, that is one fewer dog in the shelter that gets a home.

Anyway, I'm sounding bitter and rambling, so I'd better stop. The whole thing just made me sad. So much time and effort spent rescuing one dog simply because of who his parents were when the real dogs that need rescuing are still waiting patiently to be noticed.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


That's how many homeless dogs, cats, kittens, puppies, guinea pigs and bunnies got lined up with new homes this weekend in the two day, Weekend Adoptathon.

We had 14 groups participating in Tri-Valley on Saturday, and 17 groups participating in Oakland on Sunday (some were at both, like FOFAS, Purrfect Cat Rescue, Hayward Animal Services, and Community Concern for Cats), and they brought along with them scores of fun, happy, crazy :), dedicated, thoughtful, caring, boisterous, educated, zealous, patient, hardworking staff and volunteers. And animals. Lots and lots and lots of animals.

Animal welfare is in good shape in this community, if this group of professionals is any indication.

You know? I know that I work with amazing people, because I see them every day. But it is so heartening to know that 30+ other groups are populated by people who care as much as the people attending the Adoptathon this weekend. In brutal heat, no less.

I have about a 100 new heroes.

Chloe, it's time to go home

Congratulations Chloe, on at least your third adoption from the East Bay SPCA in Tri-Valley!

Poor Chloe has been in and out of the shelter so many times, through no fault of her own.

She originally was adopted 2 or 3 years ago as a younger cat. She went home with younger children who played with her roughly and when she had enough, she would scratch back.

Our advice to the orignal adopters was to leave Chloe alone when she had enough, but the adopters weren't so happy with that, and they declawed her to prevent her from scratching.

Little did they realize, by declawing a cat, they're taking away her first line of defense, her claws. Her second best defense is her teeth. Instead of now clawing at the kids, she would nip at them (although not breaking skin). She was then returned for not being good with the kids.

Since then, she's been re-adopted and returned several times now, for various reasons, such as moving, not having time, and allergies. After her very last return, she stayed here 311 days looking for her final home. During part of that time, she served as our "Shelter Cat", the cat we use to test out dog's reactions with cats.

Now, with this final adoption, I am hoping it's her very last one. I'm sure she would feel the same way. Early reports from the adopters is that she is doing very well and adjusting quickly to the new home! Thanks to the wonders of the internet the new adopters learned about Chloe off the Virtual Pet Adoptions website and thought she was a great match for their lifestyle.

I'm confident this is her final stop now. Everybody loves her at the new home, and even the neighbors have come to visit her.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sometimes kittens just die.

I got a call last night on my cell phone from CK. Calls from the foster coordinator at night are never good. Sure enough, a kitten was failing, and someone needed to meet the foster parent at the shelter. With ND on a few days vacation, it fell to me to handle this. (We are the only ones in the shelter certified to perform euthanasia other than the vets and RVTs.)

So, I piled me and big belly in the car and headed back to work. I arrived quickly and waited for the foster parent to show up. While I waited, I saw Crank, our New Orleans transplant, who was surprised that there was anyone else at the shelter at this time. I must have disturbed her routine.

Then I saw another cat. So I got out of my car and tried to approach the cat to see if it was tame or feral. (Sometimes people "dump" their unwanted cats on our property and we can easily catch them.) This orange tabby was very wary of my presence and wouldn't let me get but within 10 feet of him. (Ah well... note to self: tell shelter staff to put out feral cat trap.)

Then the foster parent arrived. I took a look at the kitten, a skinny little black guy and indeed he was not in good shape. But he didn't quite qualify for euthanasia. I mean, he wasn't doing well, but he didn't appear to be in extreme pain or suffering. He was just lying there, eyes open, breathing fairly normally. So I gave him some fluids in the hopes that this would help his dehyrdration. I explained the foster parent that it might not work. We both stayed there together about 30 minutes trying more fluids.

He didn't look better, but he didn't look worse. I told the foster parent that I would take him home tonight, continue to give fluids and hope for the best. We would call her tomorrow with the status of the kitten. She was in tears and thanked me as she wiped them away.

We headed home, but by the time we arrived, he was already doing worse. I tried more fluids, but he just kept looking worse. He passed away around 10:30pm and then I sadly went to bed. Hopefully he knew that we tried our best. CK will call the foster parent this morning to tell her what we all know...this wasn't her fault and sometimes kittens just die.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Our volunteers are the best!

I came to work this morning at 9am to see what kind of chaos was happening at the shelter. You see, today was the day that we were breaking down all the cat cages in preparation for our new cat habitats that arrive tomorrow. We first had to move all the cats to other locations, clean the cages, and break them down.

I expected total craziness when I arrived, but I was most pleasantly surprised when the bulk of the job was already done. Volunteers were cleaning cages, staff and volunteers were breaking down cages and moving them, other volunteers were hanging out with the felines who were, to say the least, confused.

It was amazing and I've never felt so unneeded in my whole life. It was a great feeling. Thanks to CM, FC. and JM for organizing everything. Special thanks to RE for coming in on his day off to get dirty. And the most thanks of all to Elaine, Shirley, Elliott, Jan, Dan, Jittaun, Leslie, Betty, Stephanie, Mary, Cheyanne and Colleen. Our volunteers are the best!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's Foxtail Season Again

Every summer the California grass dries up and foxtails are born. This is a season where many dog owners find themselves needing to check their dogs - especially long haired ones - between the toes, under the coat, behind the ears searching for small barbs stuck to the skin or fur. If not noticed right away, these small pieces of the larger seed head can get stuck up noses or embedded deep under the skin, needing surgical removal. If you haven't seen what foxtails look like, you can take a look at http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/dogs/foxtails.html .

Yesterday, when J and I took a trip to one of the shelters we work with, we tested, fell in love with, and took in a yellow lab mix, later named Clementine. Clem's a bouncy adolescent pup, around seven months old. Full of energy, friendly and social, she was everything we want to see in the dogs we take in to our shelter. She was in good health, with the exception of what looked to me like a very bad ear infection (though I'm no vet, so I was only guessing). I was sure she'd need to see one of our vets as soon as possible to get the ear flushed, and wondered if she would even need to be treated under anesthesia, possibly during her spay surgery. Clem kept shaking her head, something dogs often do if their ears are painful or itchy, and I was glad we would be able to help her to be more comfortable soon.

Today, after our vet's daily rounds for the shelter animals, our shelter lead, C, came to me and said that they put Clem under anesthesia immediately. I knew this must mean that Clem's ear was in very bad shape, possibly worse than I thought, because the clinic was very busy, it was an hour before they closed for the day, and dogs very rarely need to be put under right away like that.

About 45 minutes later, C returned and told me that the surgery was over. Dr. A had pulled what she said was the biggest foxtail she'd ever seen in a dog out of Clem's ear. It wasn't a small barb like what normally works its way into a dog's skin - it was the entire foxtail - a good two to 3 inches long. There was also a second piece of a foxtail, and addition to being deeper than the first, it was pretty long for a foxtail barb, at least an inch itself. She reported to me that Dr. A said Clem was most likely going to be deaf in that ear.

Clem's foxtails

Clem's foxtails to scale (paperclip is large, syringe shows length of 3ccs liquid)

I went to visit Clem as she was coming out of ansthesia, and Dr. A told us that she had had to go so deep into the ear to remove the foxtails that she was very close to the brain. Given the contact with the inner ear and proximity to the brain, there is a possibility that Celm will suffer from seizures or balance problems. The doctor told us our big danger surrounding seizures is in the next hour or so as she wakes up. Right now I'm staying at work an extra hour or so with her to moniter progress. As for her balance or other neurological or inner ear problems, only time will tell as we won't be able to see any signs until Clem comes out of anesthesia.

For all of us, Clem's tough day is a reminder that we need to check our own dogs for foxtails whenever they go to parks or other locations with dry grass. Right now she's resting, giving little tail wags and lifting her head just a bit when visiters come by. Tomorrow morning, C and I will be checking on her right away. For now we're all going to send her our good wishes and be thankful that our wonderful veterinary staff were able to help her so quickly.

We'll update you with her progress. Hopefully, her news will be good.

Clem after surgery

The end of an era, the beginning of a new one.

A week ago last Thursday, at our Tri-Valley facility, the East Bay SPCA said "so long" to the man who for the last 19 years ago, has been the leader of the East Bay SPCA.

Gary Templin was hired in 1987 by the Board of Directors of what was then the Oakland SPCA, an organization coming off of several years of turmoil and turnover. Those of you who are long time Oakland residents recall that the organization did not always have the stellar reputation that is does today.

Shortly after starting, Gary made two very controversial decisions (for the time) that have since become the standard for private, non profit animal welfare: 1) he decided that a private donor funded place was not an appropriate place for the public to dump pets, which led to the closing up the night drop boxes, and 2) he demanded that every single pet leaving the facility was was spayed and neutered. This was uncommon at the time and very unpopular in the animal welfare community.

The public "demanded" the continued right to drop off pets, clients demanded the right to adopt intact animals, and many veterinarians were in agreement. But today, this is how ALL private, non profit animal welfare organizations are run.

In 1991, Gary met a man named David Duffield, who had recently become very wealthy due to his company, PeopleSoft, going public. Gary shared with him his vision of an animal shelter that wasn't a depressing, desperate place. A place where learning could take place and where the public would enjoy visiting.

David Duffield and Peoplesoft became one of the first major donors to the Oakland SPCA, and over the years contributed funding to the 1992 Oakland Adoption Center addition, one of the first adoption centers in the country built to not look like a "dog pound." (Read the San Francisco Chronicle about the opening of the new Oakland Adoption "Mall")

This partnership also led to the 1998 building of the region's first Spay/Neuter Surgery Center, and in 2001 the Tri-Valley Adoption Center and Spay and Neuter Surgery Center. Gary's presentation to the Duffields was that through collaboration and accessible spay and neuter, more lives would be saved than by any other activity, even adoption, though the facility would continue to provide adoptions and other resources. (Later, David Duffield founded the Maddie's Fund on a similar premise and brought the concept of accessible, affordable spay and neuter surgery, with agencies collaborating for a common goal, to animal shelters across the country. Since then, the Maddie's Fund has contributed mightly to animal shelters in the Bay Area and beyond.)

In 1997, Gary presented and the Board of Directors approved, the blue print for "Goal 2007" which was an audacious mission that called for the end of euthanasia of adoptable dogs and cats in Alameda County by 2007.

We are very close to accomplishing this. Since 1998, well over 70,000 spay and neuter surgeries have been performed at the East Bay SPCA’s facilities. Other agencies look to the East Bay SPCAs operations as a model of successful programming.

In the early 2000s, the East Bay SPCA continued to break ground in animal welfare by identifying specific challenges hampering the achievement of Goal 2007, with programs involving the spaying and neutering of pit bulls and feral cat.

Gary has stepped down to spend the next years of his life on his family, his art, and the outdoors, like many of us wish after years of working.

In his place, Allison Lindquist, former Associate Director of the Oakland Zoo, steps in to his mighty shoes with a new vision to successfully guide the organization through the next twenty years.

Allison has been creating the new "era" since the beginning of May, but we give thanks to Gary Templin for his successes in creating the one.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Do you have any kittens or puppies?

When I answer the telephone, sometimes I'm posed with the question: "Do you have any kittens or puppies?" Now, this has always struck me as a bit weird.

Is this person looking for either one? Puppies and kittens are quite different animals. Sure, both are babies, looking for lots of attention and care. But that's about where the similarities end!

Puppies require a lot more training, socialization with other animals, and need to be potty trained and walked twice a day.

Next time you call to ask about kittens or puppies, remember the huge lifelong commitment you have to have with either. It goes beyond the cute faces you see in pictures and TV -- they come with a lot of work, and expect to keep it up for 15-20 years!

Monday, July 03, 2006

We wish them both a long and healthy life.

We do not place cats up for adoption that test positive for FIV (feline AIDS). When we get a positive test, we do the test again (to ensure that it wasn't user error or something wrong with the test). If it comes up positive again, we have a new person run the test a third time. If it is still positive, we conclude the cat tests positive for FIV. We do not place these cats up for adoption because there are so many FIV negative cats dying in our community that we feel we can save more cats by adopting those without this problem. We wish we had the space, time, and resources for these cats, but we simply don't.

We made an exception for Pierre who was Katrina transplant. Pierre came to us in a group of cats that we took in after the hurricane. He tested positive for FIV, but since we agreed to keep him for a set period of time (to allow time for the owners to get settled and find him), we had to keep him for many months in case his owner showed up and reclaimed him. When that didn't happen and he was not symptomatic, we decided to let him stay with us since he was such a special cat and had been through so much already. He was in Oakland and then went to Tri Valley.

On June 8th, we got a cat returned by the name of Brian. He tested positive (on all three tests) for FIV and management started the unadoptable paperwork (the paperwork we do before we euthanize an animal to ensure all t's have been crossed and all i's have been dotted) with him. Since he was a return, we had to hold for 4 days in case the owner wanted to reclaim him. During that time, I got to thinking, "Hey, we have an FIV+ cat in TV that is all alone (we can't mingle FIV- cats with him) and he might enjoy a buddy." We wouldn't have to hold another space for Brian so essentially he wouldn't be taking up extra space that could be given to a negative cat. Brian is a super sweet, attractive, otherwise highly adoptable cat. We decided to give him and Pierre a chance to get along. Brian went out to TV and although they didn't snuggle together immediately, they did seem to enjoy eachother.

So the up side is that Pierre had a buddy and we didn't need to euthanize Brian.

The downside was that we then had two FIV+ cats and these cats take a long time to get adopted (which is part of the reason we don't take them in normally.) The other downside was that this exception might have confused employees and volunteers who may think that it was now ok to keep all FIV+ cats. That was not the case and this was a very big exception to let Brian stay with us. I couldn't say at the time if it was the right decision, but I was comfortable with the decision when I made it. I told employees that if either cat started showing symptoms of FIV, we would have to re-evaluate the situation. Also, if they started to fight, Brian would not be able to stay and we would not move him to his own habitat or cage.

So...was this a good decision? I'll answer that with the statement that both cats were adopted together this weekend thanks to the great staff at the Tri Valley SPCA (specifically AD). Pierre came from New Orleans and was with us for 9 months. Brian came back from a failed adoption and was with us for one month. Both are now, finally, home. We are grateful to their adopters who saw past their FIV label and got to know the cats for who they are. We wish them both a long and healthy life.

It's the pits to be pit mix.

Pit mixes have it tough. They aren't pittie enough for the true pit bull lovers and they are too pittie for regular clients looking for a nice mixed breed dog. So they get stuck in the middle, endlessly waiting for someone to look past their appearance and notice their personality and temperament.

We try to have a couple nice pit mixes in our shelters at any one time. Too many of them turns the clients off and we get a reputation as "only having pit bulls". But too few of them means we aren't really doing our job helping adoptable dogs in the East Bay find responsible homes.

They also take forever to get adopted. The last pit mix we took in came from Martinez months and months and months ago. Buddy, a super great dog, is pit pointer mix. He was great with other dogs, loved people and was well trained. But here he sat. Waiting for someone to notice all his great qualities. Finally, after making the rounds at both of our shelters and doing a stint in our Paws to Consider program, he got adopted this past week.

And this gave us the chance to take in another pit mix. Volunteers at Oakland Animal Services told us about Spanky. So we went to check him out. He had been there since March. That fact alone tells us that he must be a good, stable dog. He didn't do great on his temperament test, but we took him anyway to give him a shot and a different audience. Hopefully he does well here and gets a home soon. Only time will tell.

It's the pits to be a pit mix.

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